Monthly Archive: August, 2017

Behind The Curtains: Reading Alternate History

In most countries, ‘history’ is the dreaded school subject that only a few book-happy nerds can actually get through. Even famed author J. K. Rowling acknowledged it in her Harry Potter books; history of magic was the only subject that didn’t excite Hermione Granger, the incredibly smart and nerdy main character, although she did manage to get through the class without falling asleep. However, the history of a country is rarely boring. Text books may make it seem a though our history is all about the kings and queens who ruled us, the wars we fought and the things we built but it is a lot more than that. It’s the fashions we wore, the industries we forged and the literature and art we created.Let’s take a walk through alternative history that will make you much more interested in the subject.

The Great Industries
The great industries that a country is known for change from time to time depending on socio-political and geographical factors. A study of how each specific industry changed and evolved over time is a good way to figure out what was happening in the country and in the world. For instance, American Australian hot rods were among the best in the world when they were first being produced, but the American auto industry saw a steady decline afterwards as other countries like Japan started producing cars that were more fuel efficient and suited to a bigger, more voracious, consumer group: the middle class families.

Tracking the changes in that industry is like tracking the evolution of the American economy. Instead of sitting through a boring documentary, get a hot rod magazine subscription and read up about how they have now spread to other countries and are being reborn in an adrenaline charged sport – drag racing.

The Colourful Fashions
There are YouTube channels now that exclusively focus on the changes in fashion in specific countries, and it is fascinating to see how certain ‘rules’ of fashions that we adhere to strictly today were merely seasonal trends 50 years ago. The rise and fall of the Tokugawa shogun family of Japan for instance, can be traced by the hair styles and kimonos worn by the women. At the height of their power, when the Tokugawa clan ruled a unified Japan, the women wore elaborate and extremely heavy kimonos, some of which took over a year to complete. Their hairstyles were complicated and heavy, making it almost impossible for them to move their heads.

This was a sign of their wealth and leisure, that they could afford to have women who did nothing but look beautiful. After they lost power and the country transitioned towards modernity, kimonos became simpler, more practical and ultimately gave way to the dress and pants of the West.Thus, it isn’t necessary for us to study history the way we always have. Change your perspective.

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